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Hawkins v. AT&T

United States District Court, S.D. Texas

May 10, 2018

Beverly Hawkins, Plaintiff,
v.
AT&T, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Lynn N. Hughes United States District Judge.

         1. Background.

         Southwestern Bell Telephone Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. In 1999, Bell employed Beverly Hawkins as a customer service representative. In 2013, she hurt her shoulder in a car accident. She took twelve weeks of medical leave, dating from January 14th through April 12th. Bell gave her additional leave until June 5th. When she returned to work, she requested an accommodation to stretch every two hours that she sat. Bell allowed it.

         In December 2013, Hawkins asked to leave occasionally during the day for physical therapy. Bell approved sixteen of the thirty-two hours per month that she requested. After this, Hawkins says that her managers treated her "badly" and "excessively" screened her calls.

         In February 2014, Hawkins applied for a transfer to the revenue management department. Bell scheduled her for an interview. Hawkins notified her attendance manager that she had jury duty that same day. The company rescheduled her interview for the day after jury duty. Bell interviewed Hawkins, but she did not get the position.

         Later in the month, Hawkins asked for a day off to attend her child-support hearing. The company approved her absence, but required her to return to work with an excuse signed by the court.

         The next day, Hawkins returned to work and submitted the work excuse indicating that the court releasedher at 5:00 p.m. Her manager thought the time on the note looked altered so she called the court clerk to verify it.

         The clerk said the excuse was signed no later than lunchtime and court ended around 3:30 p.m. Based on the conversation with the clerk, her manager concluded that Hawkins changed the time. Bell suspended her without pay.

         Hawkins then filed an internal complaint for discrimination because she believed that she was wrongfully suspended. She claims that younger employees were not required to submit their work excuses and that the attendance manager never investigated them. She offers no example of some young person who needed to be investigated.

         In March, Bell met with Hawkins to allow her to explain why she disagreed with her suspension and why it should allow her to come back to work. At the conclusion of the meeting, Hawkins was permitted to continue working on a probationary decisionmaking leave for one year. The company would review her conduct in six months. Bell warned Hawkins that if she incurred additional violations, it would fire her.

         When Hawkins returned to work at the end of the month, Bell met with her to discuss her internal complaint. Her claims were unsupported.

         2. First Charge.

         Hawkins filed a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May. She claimed discrimination and retaliation because of her age and disability.

         Hawkins says Bell mistreated her multiple times after she returned from medical leave. She claims that (a) her managers interrupted her calls; (b) her managers played music loudly and danced while she was on the telephone with customers; (c) the company only gave her an accommodation for sixteen hours of leave instead of the thirty-two she ...


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